HORSE in Basketball
| |

How To Play HORSE In Basketball – Details & Steps

What is HORSE in basketball? HORSE is a game that was originally played on the playgrounds of elementary schools. But it has evolved into more than just fun for kids.

Basketball is a thrilling sport that calls for athleticism, speed, and agility. You can play HORSE with two players or more. Making shots from each letter (H-O-R-S-E) until someone misses is the goal of the game. 

However, contrary to the belief of needing to be super athletic, a game of HORSE can be played and won by almost anybody. The key here is accuracy and the ability with Trick shots. Sometimes you just have to get lucky.

What is “HORSE” in Basketball?

HORSE in basketball began in the 1950s, but it has been played for much longer. It was originally played on playgrounds of elementary schools all over the United States. HORSE basketball is fun for kids because it requires speed, agility, and athleticism!

Basketball’s HORSE rules originally had no letters or numbers; instead, the game’s participants utilized words. One would have to say “I love you” if they missed a shot from beyond the three-point line, for instance.

But over time, individuals stopped saying arbitrary things when their shots didn’t go in. They then began assigning numbers to each location on the floor starting from various locations on the court:

  • One Point Line – In between where free throw lines would be if the court were an official basketball court.
  • Two Point Line – On either side of the free-throw line, basically where a person would have to shoot from behind in HORSE for two points.
  • Three-Point Line – The same as above but this is where people shot three-point shots from HORSE.
  • Four Point Line – People shot four-pointers (shots that are made after jumping over someone’s head) HORSE style at this spot on the floor. Alternatively, you might also say “unlimited,” which would imply that there was no restriction on how many misses a player could make before losing HORSE and being forced to surrender their chosen object or ball.
HORSE in Basketball

What Are The Rules For HORSE in Basketball?

HORSE in basketball has a lot of rules, but the game is simple to play. HORSE begins with one player shooting until they miss once from each letter (H-O-R-S-E). You are “one down” if your opponent makes both of their shots. After being ‘down’,  the next shot must be made by that person in order for the other player to receive a point automatically!

The HORSE winning score changes according on the player’s skill level. In the event that this is your first time, we advise playing best of five rounds.

How do I Keep Score When Playing HORSE in Basketball?

The winner is determined by how many rounds are won without getting “down” first. When playing HORSE with two players, use this straightforward formula to keep score: win = total points – total attempts to get previous letters made but failed + total made consecutive free throws at the conclusion of five rounds.

Since there are no hoop rims in HORSE, free throws are shots taken from the same spot as your previous letter.

How Do You Play HORSE in Basketball?

Here are some steps for how you play HORSE basketball:

  • Set up your playing area by putting up hoops and/or backboards depending on what variation of HORSE you’re playing.
  • Choose a person to start first and then alternate turns after that.
  • The player who starts gets five chances or “possessions” to make shots from each HORSE letter (H-O-R-S-E) until they miss.
  • Once that player misses, the other player gets a turn.
  • After someone has missed for the first time in HORSE, it’s an automatic point for their opponent who continues play by shooting after you get down one letter!

Tips on How To Shoot From Different Letters (H-O-R-S-E)

HORSE in Basketball


Shoot this shot with one foot on either side of HORSE’s free throw line (like regular HORSE)


Standing anywhere behind your opponent’s three-point line, you can take this shot. You only receive one point if you make the basket! Even though you should have received two points because it was made from outside the three-point line, this counts as an O for HORSE.


Depending on the HORSE game you’re playing, take this shot while inside your opponent’s key or the restricted area known as half-court, center circle, or free throw line. Although according to the rule, HORSE is intended to be taken from a half-court distance, this nonetheless counts as HORSE.


If you make this shot from behind your opponent’s three-point line, you will score two points. Don’t worry if you miss; your opponent will not automatically receive a point because they just made their S at close range and received it (three-pointer).


Depending on which version of HORSE you’re playing, take this shot where E would typically go and shoot it like a typical free throw with both feet facing out into the key or restricted region known as half-court. This counts as HORSE for variations that do permit player movement following the shooting of a letter.

If you miss it and your opponent makes their next E-Shot (a free throw), they don’t get an extra point for HORSE—only getting one point if they make both shots of the same HORSE letter.

Types of Shots in HORSE

Bank Shot

A bank shot is when you shoot the ball off all or part of the backboard before it hits either rim.

Bank shots are also scored differently depending on whether they hit the front or back part of the board, so be aware that if someone makes a bank shot but doesn’t get HORSE then they only get one point!


The swish shot is when you take a shot and the ball goes through the net without making any sound. It occurs when a shot results in the rim moving only slightly (less than half an inch) or not at all.

Swish shots are worth two points, just like regular HORSE that has to be taken from behind three-point range!

However, it can become difficult since some players might claim to have heard something while others claim not to have, which could result in disagreements over whether it was swished or not. To solve this issue, we advise placing chalk or tape on your backboard. This will make it simpler for everyone playing HORSE to observe if their opponent’s rim moved while they were shooting.

No Look

A no-look shot is when someone shoots the ball without looking at it.

To avoid this, players can either look at their opponent’s rim or backboard before shooting so they don’t shoot blind and miss HORSE entirely!

You still receive one point for not entirely missing HORSE if you make HORSE with a no-look shot, but it counts as two points just like a regular HORSE.

Sitting down HORSE is when you can score by sitting down on the court after shooting instead of getting up to run back into position.

Opposite Hand

The opposite hand shot is when you shoot HORSE with your non-dominant hand.

Can You Play HORSE With 3 Players?

Three or more players can play HORSE at once. HORSE is normally played head-to-head, but if your playing area permits it, you might also play it in teams of two on each half-court!

It is great if you’re playing HORSE with a big group of people at once!

HORSE in Basketball


We hope you find this game as enjoyable and challenging as we do. It’s a great way to spend time with friends, family, or even by yourself when the weather is bad outside. Have you ever played HORSE in basketball? Let us know in the comments below!


Enter your email to join our community.

Similar Posts